Home > Warning against innovations and the callers to innovations in Leicester > What is the difference between the Deobandis and the Barelawis?

What is the difference between the Deobandis and the Barelawis?

Historical Background into the DeobandiBarelawi differences 
Bitter difference and rivalry between the Deobandis and the Barelawis   

This has has caused much confusion and hatred amongst Muslims in the Indian subcontinent. One of the major issues that caused the rift and the subsequent formation of the school of Deoband was the Tafseer (explanation) of ‘Khaatam an-Nabeeyeen’ (seal of Prophethood) mentioned in Surah al-Ahzab: “Muhammad  is not the father of any man among you, but is the Messenger of Allah  and the last of the Prophets (Khaatam an-Nabeeyeen).”(Surah Ahzab Ayah 40)   

Moulana Ahsan Nanotwi (a prominent Deobandi scholar) mentioned that the Khaatam (seal) of the Prophet-hood mentioned in Soorah al-Ahzab does not deny the advent of another Prophet. And even if another Prophet arrived, this would not affect the finality of Prophet Muhammad’s  Prophet-hood.67 The Barelawis strongly objected to this statement and used it as a proof for the Takfeer of the Deobandis.   

The Deobandis also argue with the Barelawis on futile issues, like (Imkaan al-Kadhib) whether Allah has the ability to lie or not?   

Other issues of differences were the celebration of Milaad (the Prophet’s Birthday) and various innovations which accompany it, ceremonies in which Surah al-Fatihah is recited over food before eating, celebrations and festivities held at the graves of popular saints, invoking the Messenger of Allah  believing that the Messenger is omnipresent and the like.   

The Real Ikhtilaaf (Disagreement)   

In reality, the Barelawis and the Deobandis differ more in practice than in principle. This is apparent from books that have been written by the Deobandis in order to bridge their differences with the Barelawis. Most disagreements are either in finer details, or whether those actions are for specific people or for all. A good example is the issue of meditation (Muraqabah) and seeking benefit from the graves. Even though, the two groups outwardly oppose each other on this issue, the only difference is that the Barelawis call towards and recommend visiting graves to derive benefit from them for everyone, whilst the Deobandis make it specific for a few. Therefore, the rift between the Deobandis and the  Barelawis is more of mutual prejudice, than of Aqeedah

The Barelawis on their part have relied mostly on conspiracy theories and misinterpretation in their Takfeer (declaring Kufr) of the Deobandis. They created a lot of noise on Moulana Ahsan Nanotwi’s statement, “And even if another Prophet arrived…”,but this statement is not objectionable from the Sufi point of view. It simply stems from the common belief of all the Sufis that everything was created from the light of Muhammad , and that the  is the ‘Seal of Prophethood’ from the very beginning.   

Besides, ‘real Sufis’ know that since nothing exists other than Allah, to believe in the real existence of Allah’s Messenger  is Shirk. This shows that the differences between these two Sufi groups are superficial and based mostly upon party rivalry than upon religion. The Sufis in general do not give Aqeedah, which is the core of Islam, its due position. We shall elaborate further in light of statements by Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki.   

Posted by Jafar

  1. Dawud
    March 8, 2010 at 21:50

    Assalaamu alaykum akhi,

    I feel you have been unfair to many of our deobandi brothers in this article.

    I said my shahadah in a deobandi masjid, and have met quite a few deobandi imams and sheikhs through the years, spent time with them, spoken with them at length and I have never once come across a single one of them who said there could be another prophet after Muhammad (saws).

    Also, out of the approximately 40-50 deobandi imams i have spoken to, only 2 have said it was permissable to go to the graves of the dead and seek intercession and one of these was talking about asking Allah through the deeds of the individual not the individual themselves, and other changed his mind after myself and another brother spent three days sitting in his masjid speaking with him.

    There are also differences amongst the deobandis from india and those from nwfp pakistan, the ones in india tend to be more sufi, the ones from nfwp paksitan destroy the sites of sufi grave worship and were historically supported by the salafi ulema during the afghan jihad in the 80’s.

    So though you will find some deobandi imams with very odd ideas in aqeedah, i really think it is a tiny minority who hold it is permissable to go and ask the dead for help or seek their interecession.

    assalaamu alaykum,

    • March 8, 2010 at 22:34

      walaikum salam dawud
      Thank you for your comment about deobandi Imams and i am sure that you have found many Imams of different masajid that dont hold to the the beliefs stated in this article,but I must point out to you that this post was taken from a book which expounds the beliefs of their founding forefathers of the deobandi creed and it is based on statements taken from the books of their scholars.It may be that many deobandi Imams disassociate from these deviant creeds and many common people are unaware of these beleifs,But these deviant creeds can be found in their books and this is what we want to make the people aware of.Perhaps it would be a good idea for some of these Imams to publicly condemn some of these deviant beleifs found in the writings of these deobandi scholars

  2. Dawud
    March 9, 2010 at 11:30

    If it i the book I think you are referring to you have references elsewhere on this site, then I have read it and though it might be true of many deobandis, especially those in india, I find it less useful for talking to deobandis here in the uk.

    I agree on the need for putting distance between themselves and those who do shirk, one thing that drives me nuts about many deobandi brothers is that yes they will agree going to the graves of the awliya and asking for their aid is shirk… but they will still make jammat with a few people who do, go and speak at and attend the same conferences etc.

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